Front Page
Series Contents
Series Theme: Bible Study Approaches

Title:   2. Basics for Bible Study


A page that explains a variety of approaches to Studying the Bible





1. Introduction


This is the first page of application notes to start you towards doing your own Bible Study. 

On this page  we will look at general considerations, making it relevant, and basic starter questions. 



2. General Considerations?


Whenever you approach Scripture there are some basic considerations you always want to have in mind:


1. What did it mean to its original readers?

Many Christians over spiritualise the Bible and try to apply it to themselves first.  What we need to do is ask, first of all, what was the writer trying to say to the people of his day?


When we read our English version of the Bible, read the language, first of all, as you would the language in any other book. It may be that the writer uses certain words in particular unusual ways, but that will become clear as we proceed to study the text.


2. What Gaps are there in my Understanding?

There may be gaps in my understanding of the culture of the Middle East , or the period of history, or the geography of the Middle East.


We will consider each of these in detail in the second page of these application sheets.


3. What are the Answers to the Basic Questions about the Passage?

For us to come to full understanding we may want to ask:

WHO wrote?
HOW did they fit into history?
WHY did they write?
With WHAT aim in mind?




3. Making it Relevant?

Basic information may be interesting but if that's all it remains then it will have a very limited impact on us. Instead we should always be asking, "How is this relevant to me?"

To help answer that, we may need to look more carefully at what we are reading and see whether it is:


1. Simple INFORMATION  being imparted?

How does it fit into my already existing understanding? Does it add to it or even, perhaps, change it?  

e.g. John 6:41  Jesus has said he came down from heaven.  Does this change my view of him?

Specifically in respect of information, we may ask, does this teach me anything about God, or anything about people, or anything about life in general?


2. A PRINCIPLE being laid down?

Is this a truth about life, how things 'work' in either the material or spiritual world?  Do I need to recognise this principle and adjust my life accordingly?

e.g. Galatians 6:7 Paul says a man reaps what he sows. Do I need to look afresh at my life to see what I am "sowing" in it?


3. A COMMAND to be obeyed?

Where it is a command from God, to whom was it addressed, and does it still apply today?

e.g. Leviticus 4:27,28 An instruction as to what to do when you became aware that you had sinned. However this applied to the Israelites and sacrifices are needed no longer because the New Testament teaches that Jesus has become our once-for-all sacrifice (Heb 9:28).
e.g. Matthew 5:44 is a general teaching by Jesus for all his followers,  and is therefore applicable to Christians today.


4. A PROMISE  to be received? 

If there is a promise from God here, is it to specific people in history, or is it a general promise to anyone, or is a promise that is conditional (as most are!)

e.g. Psa 37:4 The condition of God giving you the desires of your heart (putting them on your heart and then fulfilling them with your cooperation) is that we delight ourselves in God (make Him the centre of our beings!)


5. A WARNING to be heeded?

Again, to whom was the warning given, and is it a general warning that we need to observe?

e.g. Gal 5:15 is a general warning against living a destructive life style, still applicable.


6. WRONGS to be avoided?

Sometimes these are in the form of bad behaviour noted in the narrative, sometimes in the form of direct teaching.

e.g. Col 3:5  a list of sins that God will deal with.


7. A EXAMPLE  to follow

When observing the behaviour of individuals in the Scripture, consider whether this is something to emulate or avoid.

e.g. 1 Sam 25:10,11   Inhospitable and ungrateful behaviour by Nabal - to be avoided.
e.g. 1 Sam 25:23-25   Wise and diplomatic action by Abigail - to be emulated.




4. Basic Starter Questions?


The objective, surely, of reading or studying a passage, is to find out what was said or what was happening.


If the previous section seems too much for you, then the following, which are more basic questions, may help you focus on what was happening:

•    WHO is mentioned   (people mentioned)

•    WHEN - did things happen?   (order, timing etc.)

•    WHERE - did they happen?   (location and significance)

•    WHAT - was being said, is happening?   (general content etc.)

•    WHY - is something said or done?    (reasons)

•    WHEREFORE - what follows?   (conclusions)



5. Applying those questions


To illustrate the above, we'll consider the story of Gideon in Judges, specifically the incident recorded in Judges 6:11-13

1. WHO is mentioned?

•    an angel from God (a divine messenger)

•    Gideon, an Israelite (see v.15)

•    Midianites - marauding invaders

•    Joash, Gideon's father.

2. WHEN things happened.

•   the angel comes while Gideon is threshing wheat.

3. WHERE they happened.

•   the conversation takes place in a wine press, i.e. a dip in the ground where they pressed out grapes, rather than on a threshing floor which was usually a raised platform where the wind could blow the waste away. In other words Gideon was hiding!

4. WHAT happened or was said?

•    the angel came and found Gideon in hiding.

•    he told him that God was with him and addressed him as a 'mighty warrior'.

•    Gideon queried this, acknowledging the plight of his people, under enemy oppression.

5. WHEREFORE - what is happening here?

•    Gideon feels he is a nobody in tough times and God seems distant.

•    the angel comes to bring the truth and prepare him for what is going to happen.

•    in God's eyes Gideon is a warrior, because that's what He's going to make him!

•    God sees the situation and sees our potential.    



6. Other Passages to Study

If you would like to apply these questions to other straight forward passages you could try the following:

                                    Matthew 4:23-25

                                    Matthew 8:23-27

                                    Acts 4:32-35

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